TOKYO -- Deep lightweight champion Mizuto Hirota successfully defended his title against Dream veteran Seichi Ikemoto in the main event of Deep 57 Impact on Saturday at Tokyo Dome City Hall. Much like when he wrested the belt from former champion Katsunori Kikuno last August, Hirota fought tooth and nail with Ikemoto, taking his fair share of punishment in the process.
“I wasn't in as good a condition as I expected. He didn't fight better than I thought he would, though. It was all about my performance, and I didn't think I was active enough in the final round,” said a disappointed Hirota.
Given Ikemoto's longer reach, the champion often found himself in his opponent's firing range while closing the distance to deliver his own punches. Hirota was successful early with his sharp, snapping jabs, but a backpedaling Ikemoto took the champ's best shots to mark him up with his own counters.
The action picked up in the second frame as Hirota continued to push through fire to land offense. Though unable to keep Ikemoto down after an early trip takedown, Hirota tattooed the challenger with blistering punches and chaingun dirty boxing in the clinch. Not to be outdone, Ikemoto scored more than his fair share of punches and low kicks on the fearless champion, however.
The final stanza saw Ikemoto beginning to pull ahead of Hirota on the feet, forcing the champ to stuff him into a corner to stem the offensive tide. Hirota then sealed the round for himself with the takedown, whereupon he layered on ground-and-pound from side control and the full mount for the final minute and a half.
Despite taking an inordinate amount of damage, all five judges -- Moritaka Oshiro, Yoshinori Umeki, Samio Kimura, Kenichi Serizawa, and Akira Shoji -- agreed that the champ had done enough to net the nod.
Ever the modest champion, Hirota claimed that he still hasn't had a proper performance since his gruesome hammer-lock loss to Dream lightweight champion Shinya Aoki on New Year's Eve 2009's Dynamite .
“I couldn't get any more motivated than the Kikuno fight. I haven't gotten a knockout since returning, so I don't feel like I've made a real 'comeback' just yet," said Hirota.
Despite their close and contentious first fight, the second meeting between Takafumi Otsuka and Yoshiro Maeda was far more definitive as the former featherweight King of Pancrase wrested the Deep bantamweight title from the incumbent champion by way of submission.
Otsuka's wrestling savvy was no match for Maeda's scramble, as Maeda stuffed takedowns and pot-shotted the champ's nose bloody in the first round. Maeda also hyperextended Otsuka's arm with a straight armbar while pulling guard and hanging from his waist.
The champ was arguably only able to save himself by chucking Maeda outside the ropes, prompting a break. The coup de grace came when Maeda floored Otsuka with a left hook and knee combo, taking mount to further bloody him up with brutal punches before sinking the rear-naked choke at 3:13 into the second round.
“I'm really glad to have won a belt. It's been a really long time since I've had one,” said the newly minted bantamweight champion. “I don't remember much, maybe because I ate a knee. I can't really remember which of my strikes scored on Otsuka, either. But, when I realized I had his back, that's when I sunk the choke.”
Elsewhere, Deep featherweight champion Kazunori Yokota defended his strap against former Shooto 143-pound champion Hideki Kadowaki in a tepid three rounder. Though a late replacement for the still-missing Doo Ho Choi, Kadowaki acquitted himself well early in the fight.
After falling to a sharp Yokota one-two at the opening bell, Kadowaki quickly recovered and reversed the champ when he lunged to finish, locking down top and side position for the remainder of the round. Kadowaki sought to replicate this success in the latter two periods, but Yokota foiled these plans by keeping the fight on the feet, where he scored quick, stinging punches on the tentative Kadowaki to steal the final rounds and the decisions of judges Kimura, Serizawa, Oshiro, Shoji, and Umeki.
In only her third Deep bout, Star Wars heiress Amanda Lucas became Deep's inaugural women's openweight champion after submitting WMMA pioneer and active women's pro wrestler Yumiko Hotta. Though Hotta hadn't seen MMA competition since 2000, she proved surprisingly resilient, defending against repeated keylock and rear-naked choke attempts.
As such, Lucas had little recourse but to drop heavy fire from the mount and crucifix positions throughout all three rounds, progressively mashing her opponent up for cinching the final submission. Hotta had her moments, overwhelming Lucas on the feet with flurries before succumbing to takedowns and netting a tight guillotine attempt in the third frame. Nonetheless, Lucas readjusted and reasserted her dominance before finally finishing
Hotta with the keylock at 2:16 of the final frame.
“It was a really tough fight. She was strong and tough, and I really felt like I had to earn it. She's been around a very long time and she's had more fights than me. I'm grateful to have had the chance to fight her,” said an overwhelmed but happy Lucas. “I've won a couple of grappling tournaments, but nothing compares to this. This is the biggest honor, and something I worked really hard for. This is probably one of the best moments of my life.”
Last but not least, Georgian judoka Levan Razmadze had his first successful Megaton title defense against Ryuta Noji, submitting the karateka in the first round. After catching a Noji kick, Razmadze swept the challenger to the canvas and smothered him in the mount and crucifix. In between dropping short punches, the Georgian attempted an unsuccessful armbar and keylock. The third time was the charm however, as Noji was unable to escape the following armbar attempt, tapping out at the 3:16 mark.
Nakamura Upsets Gono, 'DJ.taiki' Stops Fellow Dream Vet Nakamura
Perennial Dream fan favorite Daisuke Nakamura decisioned fellow Dream and UFC veteran Akihiro Gono in a tense, back-and-forth welterweight bout. Nakamura pursued Gono with flicking jabs and snapping right hands, while Gono responded with lunging punches and swift kicks to the body and legs.
However, slips and stumbles on Gono's part often gave Nakamura the ability to flex his ground savvy, capturing the mount and threatening with armbar attempts. As if that weren't enough, a further strike against Gono came by way of the dual yellow cards issued pre-fight for his coming in 900 grams overweight. It no doubt factored into the close decision, as judges Oshiro, Serizawa, and Kimura's scorecards all favored Nakamura.
Keeping true to his word that he'd shoot for takedowns, Daiki Hata did just that for one and a half rounds before dispatching fellow Dream veteran Yusaku Nakamura in their bantamweight bout.
While “DJ.taiki's” takedowns were repeatedly successful, Nakamura arguably registered the better offense, as he was difficult to keep down and landed far more offense on the incoming Hata. Hata's ground offense was largely nil until the second frame, when he locked a helpless Nakamura into the crucifix to drop punches to the face until referee Oshiro called the stop at the 3:57 mark.
Featherweights Shoji Maruyama and Tatsunao Nagakura split rounds in what looked to be a draw. Thanks to a second-period yellow card for Nagakura's repeated rope-grabbing however, the decision went to the Pancrase veteran, who in the second round landed punches and takedowns on the tiring Yoshida Dojo product.
Nagakura has a good showing in the first frame, easily outboxing and outpointing Maruyama, but his fatigue and second round penalty cost him the decision on judges Kimura, Umeki, and Serizawa's cards.
Makoto Kamaya expediently crushed Katsuya Toida in their bantamweight bout. Kamaya almost notched the knockout in under a minute when a brain-rattling right hook and flying knee to the face blasted “Toikatsu.” Toida recovered quickly and returned with rapid-fire counterpunches, but Kamaya could not be denied. Kamaya's next brutal assault in the form of a right high kick and a right hook put Toida down for good, prompting referee Serizawa to call the bout at the 1:13 mark.
Though the smaller fighter in their megaton bout, Hirohide Fujinuma expediently flattened the corpulent Seigo Mizuguchi. Mizuguchi gave chase early, swinging lethal bear paws as Fujinuma retreated. Successive missed haymakers from Mizuguchi left him open for furtive counterpunches to the jaw however, which Fujinuma diligently racked up before Mizuguchi's legs went rubbery and collapsed under him against the ropes. Referee Kimura dove for the save then, at 1:20 into the first round.
Yoshitomo Watanabe took a narrow decision win over Naoki Samukawa in their welterweight bout. The AACC product had difficulty in the first period as Samukawa foiled his takedown attempts and marked him up with jabs.
The final stanza was more in “Nabe's” favor however as he finally put Samukawa on his back, lighting him up with big punches from guard. Despite two Samukawa takedowns that round as well, judges Umeki and Kimura seemed confident in Watanabe's efforts, voting him the winner while a less certain judge Serizawa ruled the fight a draw.
Pride veteran Hiromitsu Kanehara took fellow veteran Daijiro Matsui to a majority draw in their 191.8 pound catch-weight bout. Kanehara threatened with submissions from bottom in the first frame, while the second period was all Matsui as he parked himself in Kanehara's guard to grind away with punches. As such, judges Shoji and Umeki ruled the bout a draw, while dissenting judge Serizawa sided with Kanehara.
Masato Kobayashi didn't even get to break a sweat as a single left hook put fellow flyweight Tatsuyuki Nakamura down on all fours and in a state too discombobulated to continue. Referee Serizawa dove for the save at a mere nine seconds into the bout.
Although off to a great start in taking back mount on Yuki Niimura, a quick reversal saw Bernard Ackah give up his own back before tapping to the rear-naked choke at 3:35 into the first frame in their light heavyweight tilt. The loss ended the Japanese TV personality's five-year side project as a fighter coming on a loss, though he promised to continue his involvement in MMA by producing fighters from his gym.